Harry’s Geek Roundup – Sharks with Lasers


That was just a link we got tweeted, it makes me happy 😀 So thanks to @unefistanoche for that.

So without further rainbows, here is my roundup for our episode on Evil Genius and Mad Scientists.

World Wide Web is 20 years old

Yes, that’s correct – I am as old as the Internet. (And that IS it’s real logo)

The idea of an interconnected system of computers can go back to somewhere in the 1960s, but the World Wide Web itself first became a publicly available service on August 6th, 1991. Tim Berners-Lee, CERN computer scientist and the inventor of W3, commemorated the occasion in 1991 by uploading a short summery of the WWW project to the alt.hypertext newsgroup page. We owe Mr. Berners-Lee our respect and gratitude. And now – a birthday cake 🙂


Nanowire battery (thinner than hair)

Researchers of Rice University have used what you may remember from GCSE Chemistry about Anodes and Cathodes – and made a battery 150 nanometers wide. Thousands of them in fact – and the team say they have ‘good capacity’ but loose their charging prowess after about 20 cycles. They are working to fine-tune the materials which sound fix this problem.

These Lithium-Ion batteries could yield some breakthrough progress for nano-robotics, and I personally hope, for integrated solar-charging clothing. Can you imagine wearing a shirt with the previously mentioned flexible solar-panels on it, and it can now charge tiny, thread-like batteries inside of itself? Hook your DS to your top and play in the sun, while constantly charging! … well – Gameboy is more likely given the power usage of the newer handhelds, but my point remains!


The Vibro-Touch-Glove… its for science, I swear!

Ok, before you start – this is not an innovation in lesbian love-making, at least not intentionally. The Georgia Institute of Technology have created a glove with a vibrating finger-tip  that lightly vibrates the wearer’s finger – significantly boosting their sense of touch.

The glove’s target audience would be people with a difficulty feeling, or whose work requires high-precision manual dexterity.


The Robot Revolution 1: COOOOOOKIES!!!!!

YES! Our brilliant friend from a few weeks back – The PR2, is now in the news again. At first we loved that he could do simple tasks of moving objects and helping disabled people (such as Henry Evans), but now he has proved he can cook! (Insert Iron Chef joke here)

PR2 can find ingredients according color and size, and a laser scanner and stereo camera to allow it to discern utensils and larger objects such as butter and the cookie sheet. It’s then down the recipe: PR2 can mix ingredients, and create and bake the cookie dough.

It still has flaws: yes that spatula is taped to its arm, and it can’t clean up after itself yet – but this is a brilliant step towards Robot Butlerdom. Oh, and its a robot in a Chef’s hat – what more do you want?!


The Robot Revolution 2: The weightlifter

Well if the ‘want more you could want’ from PR2 was to pick you up and give you a hug: It can’t, but RIBA II can.

RIBA II is a robot “Teddy Bear” from Japan designed to pick up and gently move elderly people from beds to wheelchairs, and vice versa. The hope is that RIBA II will be able to lift (pardon the pun) the burden of care workers, with the increasing number of elderly people – brought on by advances in medicine and a higher predicted age of death.



The Robot Revolution 3: Educated guesses and the road to reasoning

The Tokyo Institute of Technology has made some excellent progress with it’s SOINN (Self-Organising Incremental Neural Network) system. The idea behind SOINN is for the robot to make decisions based upon its past situations – it can reason and make educated guesses, much like a human can. Albeit within a much more specific field – such as picking up objects.

Speaking as someone who has programmed AI code before, it has always been easy to program operators such as “pick up cup”. I mean I can do it – and I certainly don’t get a research grant. Whats interesting here is that the robot is given an instruction with far more operators, such as “pour a glass of  cold water” and it will decide how to go about this based upon its knowledge of concepts such as “water pours” and “ice is cold” – combined with its ability to determine what the things around it are (in this case, the water and ice models… yeah they are NOT using real water near something this expensive :P).

Relax – without being programmed with a concept of Morality or Emotions, it wouldn’t even consider ruling mankind an option – but this could be considered a small step in that direction…


Things we want to try: OutRun Golf Cart

Its like real life, only so much more expensive – presenting Garnet Hertz’s OurRun AR Project (AR for Augmented Reality). As you drive, the cameras on the front of the car convert what you are driving towards into an 8-bit course which is put onto the screen. The car moves and takes in your commands so that on the screen you are actually playing OutRun while you drive. Such a brilliant, nostalgic idea – and its actually a game you can play while driving, that won’t get you killed! (especially not with a top speed of 13mph…)


WTF Award 1: Giant phallic military “lightning gun” parts sold on Ebay 

Ok guys, this piece of news is not uncommon – old military things get passed around and sold all the time. This story is fascinating though, and the whole … apparatus asks some serious questions about the mentality of designer of this euqipment/weapon.

Damn, that sentence was hard to write without giggling.

Seriously, I won’t regurgitate this one – head over to Wired and read this.


WTF Award 2: Kitchen Nuclear Reactor

See, this is why I love our WTF awards. Richard Handl (a 31 year old Swede) has been arrested for possession of radioactive materials – which he has been using to make a nuclear reactor in his kitchen.

Richard has been caught “Practising Science without a License” it seems; he’s making performing various experiments with radioactive materials such as Americanium, Radium and Uranium – over his kitchen hob. He story goes that while he was trying to see if he could split an atom in his own home, he suffered a small meltdown (pictured above). Worried, he called Sweden’s Radiation authority to see what he might be doing wrong. They immediately called the police.

Richard has kept a diary of his experiments on his blog at http://richardsreactor.blogspot.com/ – and would really recommend checking out his excellently chronicled made science 😛



Two very well-made lists of things to-do and not-to-do when and if you become Evil Overlord:



Spyro the Dragon’s new game gets a new peripheral: It allows users to transfer save files to this little device, and even convert them into formats for different consoles. We all agreed that this is a brilliant idea, but asked one question. Why the hell is this happening with a Spyro game?! Spyro has been dead to me since the PS2 – surely there are much bigger releases to monetize this upon?

We also mentioned Evil Genius – a video game where you play as one.

Dr. Doofenshmirtz from the TV series Phineas and Ferb – which you should really watch because its awesome!

Him from the Power Puff Girls

CaptainImaginary our Swedish cosplaying friend. He’s very cool.

Sherlock Series 2 – Can’t Wait!

And the Moist Song from the musical commentary of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog

And with that, I have written for several hours and must sleep. Goodnight Internet!


Awake again now, here are the links to our various social networks – and if you liked today’s music it is in a playlist on our [Youtube] account ‘S03E02’. Catch you next week everyone.

Facebook – TwitterGoogle+MyAnimeListTumblr (Harry)

– HB

Harry Bentley

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